Report Type: Surveillance Report
Location: Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Disease Entity: Diphtheria
The United Nations reports the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF are engaging in an emergency vaccination campaign against diphtheria in collaboration with the Haitian Health Ministry following a report of “cases” in Camp Batimat of Cité Soleil district on May 15th. At estimated 2,000 camp residents are targeted for vaccination due to possible exposure to the bacterium. The United Nations indicates that since initial vaccination campaigns started in February, approximately 888,000 earthquake survivors have been inoculated against diphtheria. The second phase of the diphtheria vaccination initiative is scheduled to begin in June targeting individuals living outside the internally displaced persons camps.
It is notable here that one of the HEAS partners notified us of a rumor of 50 cases of suspected diphtheria in this same camp on May 16th. Based on the WHO public announcement to the media on May 11th there "was no evidence of epidemic diphtheria" and lack of notification by public health, we believed the report to be plausible but unlikely. We note there has been no official announcement from IDPSS or MSPP of the outbreak. Here lack of efficient communication continues to pose a challenge.
Diphtheria was first reported in a 15 year old boy in PAP by HEAS partners on May 3rd, followed by report of his death on May 7th. Ongoing challenges in coordination between public health officials and ground responders were documented at this time. On May 11th, with WHO's public announcement of no evidence of epidemic diphtheria, we observed there likely was diphtheria in the community.
Communication inefficiencies and lack of proper collaboration between public health efforts in Haiti and ground responders persists.